This study investigated whether parental behavior can have long term influences onchildrenâ€™s brain and mental development.To investigate the long term effects of parental behavior, a questionnaire was usedamong 49 normal young adults (mean age 22.3 years) to measure representationsabout their mother's and father's behavior, conceptualized as in whether or not theparents met certain needs during participants childhood. With another questionnairethe young adults core beliefs were measured, thus what the participants believedabout themselves. MRI scanning was used to see whether people who reportmore negative on their parents than others, have different gray matter densities inareas throughout the brain.The results show that when people report that there was a lack of meeting emotionalneeds by their mother and father during childhood, this leads to self-defeating corebeliefs later in life. However, maternal behavior seems to be a more important influenceto the adults core beliefs, than paternal behavior. Further, adults who reportmore negatively on their mother's behavior show alternate formations in gray mattervolume of certain areas in the brain: anterior medial temporal, parahippocampalgyrus, cerebellum, PMA, occipital and frontal pole areas. These affected areas areassociated with information integration and emotional semantic processing, as wellas a past and future thinking.We concluded that parental behavior that fails meeting important emotional needsof children, can be viewed as the origin of certain self-defeating core beliefs, and havean influence on brain functioning. Because the effects were found in young adults,we may say that the early childhood experiences with primary caregivers have longterm mental and neurological effects.
Annemijn Van der Veek, Aryan Van der Leij, Andries Van der Leij, Steven Scholte